A Proven Way to Boost Referrals

Beverly Flaxington is a practice management consultant. She answers questions from advisors facing human resource issues. To submit yours, email us here.

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Dear Bev,

It is frustrating to have great relationships with clients and centers-of-influence (COIs) but virtually no one refers, especially considering how many people we know. Too few of our happy clients refer to us. Is this normal?

I read studies that say the top-performing advisors are experiencing, on average, 25% or greater organic growth each year. We are nowhere near this. We could be if we had the referrals from everyone who identifies themselves as happy. We ask. We provide opportunities at events. We tell clients we want to grow. We think they know our value proposition and can talk to others.

What’s missing? What do we need to do differently? It is an ongoing discussion in our firm but we don’t get answers.


Dear L.C.,

How are you growing right now? It can be difficult to benchmark yourself against the “top-performing advisors” when you don’t know whether their business model is like yours or not. I was just having this conversation with a client of mine. Her firm has been growing about 10% each year, bringing in assets of close to $75 million, so not a small amount. She was lamenting that it isn’t 25% “like the top advisors,” but maybe it is good enough for their firm. Maybe the top is a small subset of the general population. I say this only because I believe it is dangerous when you measure yourself against others when you don’t have the facts and data to support what they are doing and how it might differ from what you are doing.

That said, there are likely referrals hiding in your client base and with your COIs. It sounds like you have been focused on trying to obtain what you can – you are asking clients and COIs and your firm is putting a focus on this. You are trying to examine what you are doing well and what you could do differently. At least you are asking the right questions!